Three memorable steps mark the manhood of Moses. We read that “when he was come to years he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (See Heb. 11:24-26).
The three steps were—first, the severance of his relationship with Pharaoh; second, his identification with the people of God; and third, his appreciation of the reproach of Christ above the treasures of Egypt.
These remarkable steps were taken “by faith.” They were so thoroughly contra-natural, that no man, acting on the instincts of nature, would ever have dreamed of taking them.
Now Moses had, as men say, the ball at his feet. A splendid vista of earthly greatness spread itself out before him. He was dignified by royal relations; he held in his hand a cup that contained the pleasures of sin; and he could command, by virtue of his position, the very treasures of Egypt. His opportunities for self-gratification were almost unparalleled; and yet, just at the time when, in nature, he would have stepped unhesitatingly into the enjoyment of all, he stepped, by faith, outside of it.
What a strange career! And what a complete reversing of all the aspirations of nature did his faith produce!
But notice, “he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” His faith, with her far and telescopic range, swept beyond the confines of Egyptian treasures, and leading him to renounce the pleasures of sin which are but for a season, gave him to grasp the bright reward at Christ’s judgment-seat; and under the influence of that, to count all else but dross or dung.
Wise and happy choice made by faith at his manhood! Bright example! See Moses making his first exodus; bidding farewell to his foster-mother, by whom he had been kindly reared, and at whose expense he had been highly educated; see him deliberately abandon the court of Egypt, and surrender his claim to its every preferment. Wonderful refusal, but very genuine. It was, so far, a negative step on his part, but it paved the way for more—more that was charmingly positive. His full object was, not the relinquishment of Pharaoh’s palace merely, it was identification with the people of God.
And where were they to be found? In the brick-kilns. And what were they? Bondslaves, brickmakers, and masons—the serf population of Egypt, who eked out a pitiful existence under the lash of taskmasters.
These were the people of God; indiscernible, indeed, to all but faith; but, yet, with a high origin, and having a glorious destiny, Moses chose rather to suffer affliction with such than to quaff the cup of delusive pleasure, whose fleeting season glided swiftly into an undone eternity.
These were the people of God, and these were henceforth to be the friends of Moses. Ah! it is a fine phase of faith that espouses Christ in falling fortune. At such a time a timid Nicodemus may eclipse a boastful Peter; or a despised Mephibosheth cleave to an exile king. And so Moses detected in these serfs the people of God, and claimed association with them too.
Paul in a later day exhorted his son Timothy to “be not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God”; for each in his day was animated by a similar faith, and acted in a similar way. Hence it is we find that Moses “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,” when as yet Christ had not been named. But though Christ were not known—had not been revealed—yet His reproach—the reproach always attaching to faith and to its confessors (seen fully in Christ Himself when He despised the shame) was ever true of His people. It is their distinguishing badge as they travel the road from earth to heaven. Now Moses esteemed that reproach. It was of more positive value in his eyes than the treasures of Egypt. To be linked with God’s interests here was his chief ambition. He could see no mean between Pharaoh’s family and the people of God; between their afflictions and the pleasures of sin; between the reproach of Christ and the treasures of Egypt.
It must be one or the other; and by faith on his part, and grace on God’s, this remarkable man, when in the full intelligence of maturity, calmly but decidedly snapped the ties that bound him to the glory and the pleasures of Egypt, and threw himself whole-heartedly into the sympathies of God on earth.
His after course was chequered indeed. It had trials beyond measure, and honours beyond degree. He respected the recompense of the reward, and he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. We may live in a different day, and be surrounded by different circumstances; but faith in its nature is always the same, and we too, who through grace believe on the Lord Jesus, may illustrate our faith by taking the same steps that Moses took—we too may refuse the world, suffer with God’s people, and esteem Christ’s reproach beyond all earthly treasure.